Vladivostok APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (Overview & Evaluation)

September 9, 2012

On September 8 and 9, the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting was held in Vladivostok, the Russian Federation, with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda representing Japan. The following is an overview and evaluation of discussions at the meeting.

1. Overview of the Leaders' Meeting

Russian President Vladimir Putin chaired the meeting and the Economic Leaders discussed four priorities of 2012: trade and investment liberalization and regional economic integration, strengthening food security, establishing reliable supply chains and intensive cooperation to foster innovative growth.

(1) Session 1 (Trade and Investment Liberalization and Regional Economic Integration, Supply Chains)

(a) Prime Minister Noda made a keynote statement as follows:

  1. 1) Japan will continue to playing a leading role in formulating trade and investment rules in the region towards the realization of a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

  2. 2) The Economic Leaders should endorse the "APEC List of Environmental Goods" that would contribute to the green growth, on which the Ministers agreed.

  3. 3) APEC should spearhead the world with a strong message towards resisting protectionism.

(b) Other economies addressed the importance of demonstrating their firm resolve to resist protectionism, the necessity of revitalizing the WTO DDA negotiations, welcoming agreement on the “APEC Model Chapter on Transparency for RTAs/FTAs” as the next-generation trade and investment issue of 2012, appreciating progress made in work in the region towards FTAAP including RCEP and TPP, efforts to improve supply chains, agreement on the APEC List of Environmental Goods (constituted of 54 items including solar panels and wind-powered electric generating sets) which contributes to green growth and sustainable development as the tangible outcome that the WTO has yet to achieve.

(2) Session 2 (Food Security, Innovation)

(a) Prime Minister Noda made a keynote statement as follows:

  1. 1) It is important for the APEC region that accounts for half of global crops to address a recent sharp rise in global food prices in a calm and appropriate manner.

  2. 2) It is essential to work on increasing agricultural production and productivity as a medium- and long-term challenge towards strengthening food security, taking into account the importance of the “Principles for Responsible Agriculture Investment” supported by Japan in promoting private investment which contributes to increasing agricultural production.

(b) Other economies expressed concerns over soaring food prices and pointed out the importance of refraining from raising new barriers to trade or to investment including export restrictions. As for innovation, they pointed out the necessity to implement open and market-driven innovation policies towards innovative growth.

(3) Working Lunch (Economic Situation in the World and in the Asia-Pacific)

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde explained the current world economic situation, followed by discussions on the impact of the European debt crisis in the Asia-Pacific region and on cooperation among the APEC economies. In her speech, Managing Director Lagarde welcomed the comprehensive reform of social security and taxation systems which was going underway in Japan.

2. Evaluation

(1) APEC reached a groundbreaking agreement on the APEC List of Environmental Goods (54 items) in 2012 and this is expected to give momentum to the work towards trade liberalization in the region. APEC proved its potential to move forward trade liberalization. It is important to ensure the implementation of economies’ commitment on the environmental goods on which their applied tariff rates will be reduced to 5% or less by the end of 2015

(2) Given the current severe economic situation in the world, it deserves a significant valuation that the Leaders shared deep concerns over rising protectionist measures and that they reaffirmed following three points: (i) to extend their standstill commitment through the end of 2015 to refraining from introducing new protectionist measures, (ii) to rollback existing protectionist measures and (iii) to continue maximum restraint in implementing WTO-consistent measures with a significant protectionist effect.

(3) Moreover, in the context of food security, the Leaders reaffirmed under Japan’s initiative that the APEC economies should refrain from raising new barriers to trade or to investment including export restrictions on food.

(4) As one of the outcomes of the meeting, the Leaders agreed on Russia's proposal to establish the Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI) as a framework to discuss related policies towards fostering innovation among business, government and academia and to promote networking of innovation providers. Japan, for its part, needs to get involved in the work for promoting innovation through this framework.

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